The problem with legal settlements is that they rarely settle anything.

The parties finally leave the table with both claiming victory, but with both harbouring a sense of deep dissatisfaction that they had to concede ground to the other in order to bring the overdue conclusion.

No real winner, no real loser, only the lawyers feel fulfilled.


So it was with Israel Folau and the near two-year dispute with Rugby Australia that at last reached its denouement yesterday.

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Unless you have been living under a rock - Ayers Rock, at that - you will be grimly aware that the supremely talented full-back was sacked from playing for the Wallabies and the
Waratahs for expressing the viewpoint that homosexuals will be punished in hell.

Rugby Australia maintains that Folau then made a legal commitment to not put up similar posts again, but you know what it is like when you are on that hobby horse.

You try to keep your mouth shut, but, whoops, there you go again, urged on by an almighty deity and before you know it you are calling the Australian bush fires "a little taste of God's judgment" for the country daring to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage.

Understandably, Rugby Australia declared that Folau had broken his contract and vowed to give him nothing in reparation. Until it had to.

Apparently, the settlement, complete with its confidentiality clause, amounts to only A$300,000 (NZ$313,065), which is just a little taste of the A$14 million Folau demanded.

Yet that happens to be a rather big "only" for those residing anywhere near sanity.


Furthermore, the fact that Rugby Australia actually consented to putting its name to this statement makes that little bitter taste seem rancidly putrid.

"While it was not Rugby Australia's intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus."

And, thus, in the time it takes to gather an up-and-under, Folau was off and running with that "apology", announcing himself "vindicated" and "looking forward" to the government passing laws to protect the right to religious expression.

Yes, Folau envisages a day when it is perfectly acceptable to swagger into your workplace advising colleagues that their homosexuality has, alas, doomed them to an eternity of damnation.

Folau has indicated that it is part of his lordly mission to help to get this goodly legislation over the line, but at the same time he wants to resume his profession and, on these pages, it is what happens next to Israel Folau, rugby player that should consume us.

Maria and Israel Folau. Photo / YouTube
Maria and Israel Folau. Photo / YouTube

Expect him either to turn up in France some time soon, or if not on Celebrity Big Brother... or, probably both.

While the thought of him trapped in a bungalow with, say, Peter Tatchell is too delicious for the producers to ignore, then so, too, is the image of this true rugby great cutting through northern-hemisphere back lines.

Peter FitzSimons, the wonderful Australian columnist, is of the belief that Folau's "serious football career is over" and ventures the eminently sensible argument that no club worthy of their PR consultants could take the chance, even if Folau promises to press pause on his phobia.

After all, Folau has done that previously, before letting slip that "gender fluidity is the work of the Devil".

Many of us who would prefer never to hear of or from Folau again will pray FitzSimons is correct, but the cynic inside laughs itself silly at the notion that everyone will resist the temptation to capitalise on a) his rugby skill and b) his fame and infamy.

Someone will bite and the fear is Folau shall return better than ever, with conviction strengthened and hunger renewed, and cast himself into the frame for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

By then, there will be new faces at Rugby Australia and, who knows, a coach desperate for an upturn prioritising performance way above hatred.

And there will be a new settlement, that will not simply cover Folau, but every sportsman and sportswoman armed with a religious text.

They can say exactly what they want about whoever they want, safe in the knowledge that not only will God back them up, but the HR department as well.

- Telegraph Group Ltd